Bayern Munich showed they had no rustiness following a two-month layoff from action due to the coronavirus when they defeated Union Berlin 2-0 in their Bundesliga match on Sunday.
Only 24 hours earlier, Borussia Dortmund had cut Bayern’s lead at the top of the league standings to just one point with a 4-0 thrashing of Schalke in the Ruhr derby — but the defending champions were in no mood to hand out any gifts at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei.
The hosts made life difficult for Bayern in the first half, with some staunch defending and a bit of luck keeping the game scoreless until goal machine Robert Lewandowski struck just before the break.
It was a fairly easy conversion for the Pole from the penalty spot for his 40th goal of the season — in just 34 games — after Leon Goretzka was brought down inside the area.
The usual cheers were replaced by the odd clap from the Bayern bench as the 22,000 capacity stadium lay empty as part of strict measures put in place by the German government to allow the Bundesliga matches to take place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shortly after the interval, Goretzka almost made it 2-0 when he played a nifty one-two with Benjamin Pavard but his shot was blocked.
The visitors survived a scare when Union nearly levelled from nowhere after 57 minutes but Grischa Promel’s volley from 20 yards flew just wide of a relieved Manuel Neuer’s post.
Union put up a good fight, but Benjamin Pavard ensured Bayern departed with three points — and a restored four-point advantage over Dortmund in the league table — when he headed home a corner with 10 minutes remaining.
Earlier on Sunday, Cologne surrendered a two-goal lead as strugglers Mainz fought back to earn a 2-2 draw.
The hosts took an early lead when Mark Uth converted a penalty with just six minutes gone after the striker was brought down in the area.
With hugs and handshakes banned, the players celebrated with elbow bumps instead.
Cologne added a second when Florian Kainz headed home on the hour mark.
However, Mainz stunned their hosts when substitute Taiwo Awoniyi and Pierre Kunde plundered a point.
The result leaves Mainz on the verge of the relegation places
Lewandowski goals in all competitions
2015-16 — 42 in 51 matches
2016-17 — 43 in 47 matches
2017-18 — 41 in 48 matches
2018-19 — 40 in 47 matches
2019-20 — 40 in 34 matches
Cologne 2 Mainz 2
Union 0 Bayern 2